Buckner Family Pathways clients serve as volunteers

Shanna Bush (left) and Claudia Hicks, who benefited from involvement in the Buckner Family Pathways program, enjoyed giving back by volunteering at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid. Photo / Katie Moore

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DALLAS—Mothers are some of the busiest people in the world, often juggling childrearing, careers, marriages and, sometimes, schoolwork. Fitting volunteer work into such busy schedules can be challenging, but for Shanna Bush and Claudia Hicks, Dallas moms in the Buckner Family Pathways program, volunteering is part of a lifestyle.

Hicks and Bush spent time working at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid, bagging food items for distribution and assisting people in the clothing room.

Rewarded by smiles

They loved working with Johnny Flowers and the other Buckner staff, and they enjoyed seeing the happiness of families as their physical needs were met.

“At the warehouse, most of the clothes are used, but you’ll see the kids smiling like they’re in a department store,” Bush said.

Both Bush and Hicks agreed volunteering allows them to give back after receiving more than they dared to imagine from Buckner. Family Pathways is a residential program providing services to help single mothers pursue their education or vocational training in order to become self-sufficient. Most of the women in the program have suffered abuse, addition or homelessness.

Others have hard times, too

As program manager of Family Pathways in Dallas, Cynthia Rentie mentors and encourages Hicks, Bush and the rest of the mothers in the program.

“God honors a cheerful giver,” Rentie said. “They get to see it’s not just them who is having a hard time.”

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Hicks and her three children—Kelton, Destiny and Serenity—found Family Pathways by word of mouth during a particularly dark time in their lives. Hicks couldn’t find a steady job and was rejected after applying for numerous positions. She was told her Social Security number was missing, and she became desperate, ashamed and afraid for her children.

“It’s amazing, the blessing that we’ve gotten,” Hicks said with tears in her eyes. “I did not want to (volunteer) at first. I was so full of myself when I first started. We get so full of ourselves. And these people aren’t ashamed. They just need help.”

Teaching the children

For Bush, fostering in her children a desire to serve became a way to teach them to be good stewards of their belongings.

“I want my kids to see that they are really privileged,” Bush explained. “There are people who don’t have what they have. We could be in the exact same situation.”

Blessed to be a blessing

Bush and Hicks, both single mothers, students and full-time employees, far exceeded the minimum requirement of attained service hours. Even with their packed schedules, the women still found time to serve with joyful hearts.

“To me, it’s part of spiritual development,” Rentie said. “It’s the service of redemption, because they are receiving so much here.”

Hicks summed up her feelings of gratitude for Buckner Family Pathways and for the volunteering she’s done this year.

“I want to give back and be able to help people,” Hicks said. “Because God blessed me, I can give back.”

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